Devarim 5777


ויהי בארבעים שנה בעשתי עשר חדש באחד לחדש דבר משה אל בני ישראל ככל אשר צוה ה’ אתו אלהם (דברים א:ג)

And it was in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month,
when Moshe spoke to the Bnei Yisrael, according to everything
that Hashem commanded him, to them. (Devarim 1:3)

Rashi explains, “This teaches us that Moshe Rabbeinu only rebuked them immediately before his death. From whom did he learn to do this? From Yaakov, for he only rebuked his sons immediately before his death … For four reasons, we only rebuke someone immediately prior to the death (of the one rebuking): so that he should not rebuke repeatedly (for the same thing); so that his friend (whom he just rebuked) should not see him and be embarrassed from him, etc., as stated in Sifri.”
This seems very perplexing. The מצות עשה, positive commandment, to rebuke someone who did something wrong is certainly not limited to just before the death of the one giving rebuke. Even more problematic is the reasoning Rashi brings – that one postpone reproof until prior to his death so as not to rebuke repeatedly. The Gemara (Bava Metzia 31a) explains the double language of the pasuk הוכח תוכיח, “Rebuke, you shall rebuke” (Vayikra 19:17) to mean that one is required to rebuke a sinner even one hundred times. How, then, can Rashi say that the reason to postpone rebuke is to avoid rebuking numerous times?
Rav Yaakov MiLisa, in his sefer Nachlas Yaakov, offers a very novel approach, which he prefaces with another question. The purpose of rebuke is for the sinner to repent. To that end, there is no need to mention the sin while rebuking the sinner. It is only necessary to urge him to repent. Moreover, when the sinner has already repented, one is not even permitted to allude to the sin. This being the case, why did Moshe rebuke Bnei Yisrael at all? Hadn’t they already repented? The same question applies to Yaakov, who rebuked the Shevatim before his death. Hadn’t they, too, already repented?
To answer this, Rav Yaakov MiLisa explains with an example. When a person falls ill, and then recovers, the illness may linger even after his recovery, until it is completely eradicated, or it may disappear entirely. One who recovers from a potentially lingering illness needs to be extra careful regarding things that can cause a recurrence.
The same applies for “spiritual sicknesses.” Similarly, there are two levels of repentance. One form completely eradicates the sin and corrects the character deficiency of the person. He no longer needs to be extra vigilant so as not to transgress that sin again. It is truly as if he never sinned, and one is therefore forbidden to make mention of his sin.
Then there is the second, lower level of repentance: a repentance which heals the sin, but does not correct the character of the sinner. The sin is still part of the person’s essence, albeit in a small way. True, no punishment will be meted out to him, as he has already repented, but he is easily susceptible to transgress again, perhaps even more than the first time.
Moshe Rabbeinu suspected that some of Bnei Yisrael had not yet eradicated their sins completely. Possibly, he thought, the reason they didn’t relapse was because he had been there to lead and guide them. Now, though, that they were changing leaders, perhaps they would not have this same level of protection, and they would revert to their old ways. He therefore felt it necessary to rebuke them now, so as to enable them to completely rid themselves of the character deficiencies which might have remained.
Rashi’s second reason for only rebuking before one dies was to preclude rebuking repeatedly. This can now be understood, since for a possibly lingering sin, such as those of Bnei Yisrael, there is no clearly defined time when reprimand would no longer be necessary. Were Moshe to have rebuked them at any time, it would appear to others as if they had just sinned, when in fact they had already repented. Now that it was right before his death, Moshe did not need to worry about mistakenly repeating his reproof, and people wrongly thinking that the sinners had not yet repented.
Perhaps this idea can be used to answer another question. Why did Moshe mention Bnei Yisrael’s sins in such a hidden way? Based on this idea, one can answer that since the reproof was for a “hidden” lingering effect which may have remained from sins for which they had already repented, he wished to avoid mentioning the sins directly.


Question #1: Shimon is leaning against the wall on Shabbos and his elbow hits the light switch, turning on the light. Is it permissible to benefit from the light?

Question #2: Levi is carrying something on Shabbos and I realize that he is not aware that the Eruv is Pasul. Should I tell him?

Question #3: Reuvain’s family went blueberry picking. They washed and ate some, and then saw that the berries were infested. Do they require Kapparah?

There is a common denominator in all of these situations: the concept of Misasek. The Gemara (Shabbos 72b) states that if one picked a fruit off of a branch, thinking the branch was detached from the ground, when in reality it was still attached, he is Patur. This is considered Misasek, one who is preoccupied, as opposed to Shogeg, an inadvertent transgression.
Shogeg occurs when one is unaware of the Halacha. Misasek is when one is aware that it is forbidden to detach something connected to the ground; he was unaware that this was still attached and thought that his action was permitted. Therefore, although a Shogeg is required to bring a Chatas, the Pasuk teaches that a Misasek is exempt.
There are exceptions to this rule. If one ate a piece of meat thinking it was kosher, but somehow the kosher piece had been switched with a non-kosher one, he is a Misasek. Nevertheless, he is obligated in a Chatas, due to his benefiting from the food eaten.
When we say that a Misasek does not bring a Korban, does that mean that there is no transgression whatsoever? Rav Akiva Eiger (Teshuva 8) holds that there still is a Biblical prohibition; the Pasuk only absolved the Misasek from the Chatas. Others disagree; more about this later.
Question #1: A person found something in his pocket on Shabbos. He felt guilty for carrying outside without realizing it, and he asked Rav Chaim Brisker what Teshuva was required for such a transgression. Rav Chaim answered that for the Melacha of carrying, no Teshuva is necessary, for he was a Misasek. He thought he was only performing a permitted act of walking outside, unaware that it was in fact an act of carrying. However, there is an obligation to check one’s pockets before Shabbos to determine if they contain anything (O.C. 252,6). He must do Teshuva for transgressing that Rabbinic safeguard.
Returning to Question #1. When turning on a light as described, it seemingly is an act of Misasek. May one benefit from such an action? When a Melacha is done B’shogeg, the rule is that one may not benefit from the Melacha during Shabbos (see O.C. 318,1 and Mishna Berura for details). Regarding Misasek , the ruling is not clearly stated.
Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach wrote that one may be lenient in such cases (S.S.K. 10 n.44); others disagree (see Orchos Shabbos 25,4). In our example there is an added reason for leniency. Since there was absolutely no intent for the resulting action, even Rav Akiva Eiger would agree that there is only a Rabbinic prohibition. When the Melacha is D’Rabbanan, all agree that it is permissible to benefit on Shabbos (see B.H. 318,1).
Question #2: When one is unaware that the Eruv is Pasul, he is under the impression that he is carrying in an enclosed area, a Reshus Hayachid, when in reality it is a Reshus Harabim. In Rav Akiva Eiger’s opinion, such a Misasek is a D’oraisa transgression, and one must do whatever possible to prevent this Misasek from taking place. Many disagree with the premise that there is a D’oraisa involved, due to the lack of any intent in his action. Nevertheless, there is a Rabbinic transgression, and one should prevent another from transgressing even a D’Rabbanan (see Igros Moshe E.H. 4,9).
In the example of a Pasul Eruv, there are Poskim who feel that it is preferable not to announce it publicly, due to the fear that many will not listen. Privately, however, one should inform those that he is confident would appreciate being aware, so they would not transgress even when Misasek. (S.S.K. 17,25; see Orchos Shabbos 30 n.35 who states that the custom is to make such an announcement).

Question #3: Stay tuned next week Iy”H.